Mental health:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. I agree, of course mental health should be addressed, and don’t forget dental health, and ambulance waiting lists, and a lack of hospitals not to mention infrastructure, schools, roads, defence etc etc. Let’s fix the lot immediately! I assume whoever wrote the editorial is aware that there is a certain size of “cake” in this country and that there is a concerted push to balance the Federal budget ASAP.

I may be wrong and will doubtless be corrected but isn’t it true that in order to treat mentally ill people we need people to do it, just as we need dentists to fix teeth? I would be surprised if we have enough mental health practitioners to treat patients at present.

Is Crikey suggesting “our” money be thrown at the problem, as was done with home insulation? There are probably plenty of shonks ready to pose as health professionals with predicable results. We have a government that has done more about health than any  I can remember and Crikey is bleating that they haven’t fixed mental health yet,  pleeese get real.

Dr Simon Quilty writes: I was recently involved in the care of an unwell young bloke in a very remote Western Australian community, in urgent need of psychiatric evaluation. The public system here is cumbersomely slow and extremely underfunded. So I suggested to my patient he see a private psychiatrist as he had the money and was prepared to do anything for help.

After referrals to six private psychiatrists in Perth, each one getting back to me saying they did not like to be involved in acute situations (leaving me 3000km on my own dealing with a whole community and a very mentally ill young man), I put my best guilt-laden pen to paper, and the 7th psychiatrist I spoke to finally agreed to help.

Cherry-picking is rampant in the private “fee for service” psychiatric profession, and the people most in need are on the whole abandoned by the very specialists they need.

My patient returned from Perth and told me he had been asked to return for a further session, but the financial burden was much more than either of us had anticipated – $480 for a 15 minute consult.

Unfortunately, the psychiatric profession have ducked and weaved all responsibility from the finger pointing that is currently going on. And sadly the shameful greed that has gripped hold of my profession has once again remained hidden from public view.

Gillard vs. the miners:

Marty O’Neill writes: Re. “RSPT gives way to an MRRT — at nearly half the previous rate” (Friday, item 1). I cannot believe the backdown by Gillard & Co on the mining tax. The most disturbing aspect is the capitulation to Mitch Hooke.

This is the man who, in the 1990s when speaking for the Australian Food industry, fought tooth and nail to prevent proper labelling of food products, concerning their ingredients, the calorie content, the fat content etc.

It took two years for us to be disappointed with KRudd — it has taken just over a week to have the same feeling about Gillard!

Alan Kohler and governance:

Barry Donovan  writes: Re. “Kohler: Rudd an autocratic idiot, and Gillard shouldn’t be let off the hook” (Friday, item 3). Alan Kohler provides us with one of the classic statements about the superiority of Australian business ethics when he stated that “these days company boards have to publish corporate governance statements about how they operate.

Consultants are paid millions to advise on proper corporate governance and directors are fastidious about process”. What poppycock! Of course the “consultants who are paid millions” will provide exactly the advice that is required by their client. You might as well ask Bill Shorten to ask the AWU to check whether he was right to move on Kevin.

Whether you are a company, a government, or a trade union, you get the “independent” advice you want. Or have things suddenly changed Alan?

Immigration & population:

Jim Hanna  writes: Dick Smith’s long history of thoughtful contributions to public debate in Australia has earned him the right to raise legitimate population issues without his motives being questioned (Friday, comments). But I disagree with him that Australia is in danger of becoming overpopulated.

Our biggest capital city, Sydney, has one of the lowest population densities of any major city in the world at just 2,058 persons per square kilometre. Vienna, supposedly the most liveable city in the world (according to the 2010 Mercer Survey)  has almost twice as many people for the space at 4,050 persons per sq kilometre.

Even if Sydney’s population were to double tomorrow, we’d still have a lower population density than Greater London (4,758) and Vancouver (5,335). Nobody could argue those cities have a poorer standard of living than we have in Australia.

We do have room to grow in Australia — and just as well. That growth is going to occur because our population is living longer and our birth rate is rising. Immigration as a proportion of our population growth is expected to decline over the years.

Gay marriage:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Gay community’s honeymoon with ‘sinner’ Gillard over before it starts” (Friday, item 14). Many of us hoped that when Julia Gillard was elevated to the top job we might escape some of the shibboleths of the religious right. After all the new PM is an atheist and supposedly able to think freely, not beholden to ancient dogma. But it seems this is not true.

The PM tells us that “We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman.” But why do we hold these beliefs to be self-evident?  She does not say.

She obviously believes that it is acceptable for a man and woman to live together without being married, as she does. It is probable that she also believes that it is acceptable for same-sex partners to live together without being married. But apparently only the boy-girl thing works for marriage.

Is this restriction a product of Ms Gillard’s personal views – or can we expect that our supposedly secular society and our atheist prime minister will continue to be hostage to the religious right?

Please explain, Julia.

Peter Fray

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